The Bombay High Court today directed the Mumbai Municipal Commissioner to decide by May 7 whether the century-old LIC Building in south Mumbai should be demolished or preserved as a heritage structure.
The division bench headed by Justice A S Oka was hearing a petition filed by LIC seeking demolition of the building on the ground that it is dilapidated. The heritage conservation committee has recommended that it be preserved. "The Commissioner has to apply his mind and decide either to override the committee's recommendation and demolish it or barricade the entire structure and surroundings," the court said.
While the dispute is between LIC, the owner of the building, and the civic authorities, if the building collapsed it may endanger the lives of passers-by on the busy D N Road, the court noted, adding that the Commissioner should call a meeting of all the concerned parties and find a solution.
The Corporation's lawyer assured that it would put in a barricade around the building to keep the people and vehicles away in the meantime. LIC (formerly General Assurance Company) Building, a three-storey brick-and-stone structure, dates back to 1908.
It housed offices of Bisleri, National Insurance Corporation, Western India Typewriter Co and Hornby Commercial College at various times. A few years ago, following heavy showers, a portion of the ceiling collapsed and all the tenants were evacuated.